Getting a healthy meal on the table can be a struggle especially when you’re in a hurry and didn’t plan ahead. Instead of ordering takeout, stopping at a fast food restaurant or eating cereal for dinner, I challenge you to whip up a quick, nutritious dinner. First, make sure you have your freezer and pantry properly stocked. After that it’ll be easy!
To create a quick salad, start by purchasing pre-washed packages of greens like lettuce blends, slaw, or spinach. Choose toppings like cherry or grape tomatoes, pre-sliced mushrooms, shredded carrots, pre-sliced beets, quartered artichoke hearts, sliced water chestnuts, canned garbanzo or black beans, olives, hummus, avocado or guacamole, nuts, seeds, or etc.
You can add pretty much anything you want to a base of greens. What you choose to include will determine how filling your salad is so make sure you include protein such as legumes, seeds, or nuts.
Have a supply of frozen vegetable noodles like zucchini, carrots or butternut squash on hand. Top them with pasta sauce or frozen mixed vegetables with low sodium soy sauce and spices. Frozen mixed vegetables can also be used to make a simple stir fry. Serve it over a quick cooking grain like quinoa, a frozen riced vegetable, or fresh spiralized veggies.
Other quick, nutritious meals include grain bowls, burritos, wraps, low or no sodium soup, or pizza made on a frozen cauliflower crust.
The key is to have ingredients on hand so you don’t have to think too much about what to make. Just pull items out of the freezer, refrigerator, and pantry, decide what combination you want, and in about 15 minutes, volé dinner.
7 out of the 10 leading causes of death in the United States are linked to nutrition. Eat for your health today and every day!
If you haven’t picked it up yet, get my guide, 4 “natural” ways to support your immune system. Click here. The foods you eat may help you avoid or potentially reverse certain diseases.
Prevention is the most effective tool when it comes to safeguarding your wellness. A “natural” lifestyle is all about incorporating daily practices and products that support health and well-being.
Those practices include eating nutritious foods, being physically active, getting enough sleep, and minimizing stress. They all can have positive affects on your immune system for the long term.
Eat as many whole, unprocessed plant foods as possible. They can help you feel better and may even help you avoid or reverse disease. Changing what you eat and your relationship with food is extremely beneficial to your physical health.
For optimal health incorporate both aerobic activity and strength training into your fitness routine. Increase your heart rate by performing moderate to vigorous activity, at least three times a week for 30-60 minutes.
Get 7-8 hours of sleep a night to maintain a healthy body and mind. Put these practices in place to help you sleep:
- Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
- Turn off the TV and electronic devices 1-2 hours before going to bed.
- Design your environment so it is conducive to sleep. Quiet and dark.
- Maintain an aerobic exercise program.
- Use essential oils to promote a sense of calm and relaxation.
Actions you can take to handle unwanted stress:
- Perform an intentional breathing practice.
- Manage your emotions.
- Schedule quiet time into each day.
- Participate in a relaxing activity.
- Use essential oils to support your mood and emotions.
A couple of my favorite things to incorporate daily are an antioxidant drink and essential oils. Once I started incorporating these two things, my well-being shifted dramatically.
Thanks to my favorite antioxidant drink, I feel more energized—and I don’t remember the last time I saw a doctor for anything other than a routine checkup! Essential oils help calm and relax my mind after a busy day so I fall asleep more easily.
If you haven’t yet, click here to get my guide, 4 “natural” ways to support your immune system.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, mindfulness is defined as: the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. Or, a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
Mindfulness is transformative. It’s easy to become, and remain, caught up in the routine stress and consumptive patterns you experience on a daily basis. Part of supporting a healthy immune system involves being mindful of your mind, body, spirit and the space you physically and emotionally occupy. It’s incredible how shifting your focus to just one healthy habit can have a domino effect on your body, mind and life!
In addition to mindfulness, getting the proper amount and good quality sleep is critical for maintaining immune health. There are many benefits of a good night’s sleep. It is one of the most overlooked ways your body regenerates its immune system.
Adequate sleep helps T cells in your body fight infection. T cells play an important role in the immune system by killing virally infected cells. Sleep has the potential to improve the function of T cells. If you do not get adequate or good quality sleep, stress hormones may inhibit the ability of your T cells to function as effectively.
Strive to consistently get 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night in order to maintain a healthy body and mind and promote a state of overall wellness. A short midday nap can recharge the immune system too!
Sleep is as important to your overall health and wellness as proper nutrition and exercise.
Several recent blog posts have pointed out the health benefits of exercise and physical activity. In this one we’ll explore how an active lifestyle can support a healthy immune system. Your immune system is your body’s natural defense mechanism and offers protection not just in the winter months but all year round.
Building a strong immune system requires adopting healthy lifestyle habits one of which is exercise or physical activity. Along with eating nutritious foods, getting enough sleep, and minimizing stress, exercise can improve your immune function for the long term.
On the flip side, leading a sedentary, inactive lifestyle can contribute to a weak immune system. When your immune system is compromised it can lead to illness.
Exercise boosts immunity in a variety of ways.
- May promote good circulation, allowing cells to do a more efficient job.
- Releases antibodies which attach themselves to bacteria or viruses and destroy them.
- May contribute to better functioning white blood cells which fight infections.
- Can positively affect the brain by promoting a sense of well-being.
The goal is to get your heart rate up, performing moderate to vigorous activity, at least three times a week for 30-60 minutes. This can be accomplished with something as simple as going for a brisk walk. Other activities to consider include running, cycling, and using an elliptical machine.
Strength training also appears to help support the immune system and is beneficial as you age. It improves mobility and supports bone health. For optimal health incorporate aerobic activities and strength training into your weekly fitness routine.
Repetition is key, as the benefits of a workout will be depleted over time. Exercising only occasionally is not going to have an impact on your immune system. Regular exercise can also help prevent age related immune function decline.
Recent research has found that exercise and physical activity can help prevent some cancers and help some cancer survivors live longer. This information was released in a report, Exercise Guidelines for Cancer Survivors. A panel of researchers found that cancer related symptoms may be affected by performing moderate aerobic exercise, resistance training, or both.
The recommendations include:
- Exercise, for all adults, is important for cancer prevention. It lowers the risk of seven common types of cancer: colon, breast, endometrial, kidney, bladder, esophagus, and stomach.
- Exercising after being diagnosed with breast, colorectal, or prostate cancer may help reduce the chance of recurrence and improve survival.
- Exercise during and after cancer treatment improves fatigue, anxiety, depression, physical function, and quality of life and does not exacerbate lymphedema.
Before my breast cancer diagnosis, I led an active lifestyle exercising an average of 5 days a week including running, swimming, cycling, and strength training. Throughout my treatment regimen, I continued to exercise. The level of intensity and quality of the workouts diminished but I kept moving. Maintaining an exercise routine was good for both my body and mind. After completing chemotherapy and radiation, I gradually increased the amount and duration of physical activity until I regained my stamina and endurance.
If you don’t currently have an exercise routine, check with your doctor before starting one and share your goals with them. Start slowly. Gradually increase the time and intensity of your workouts. Be persistent and consistent.
The foods you eat play an integral part in the health and vitality of your immune system. As with many of your day to day activities what you eat has an effect on your overall wellness. Isn’t that wonderful? It means you CAN be in control of your health.
With what’s going on in the world right now a strong immune system is extremely important. This and the next several blog posts will explore ways you can support your immune system. To make sure you don’t miss any, click here to subscribe to the blog.
Before I had cancer I thought I ate pretty healthy. I knew that fruits, vegetables and whole grains were good for me and that processed, packaged, and fast foods were not. I was conscious of the amount of sodium and sugar content in the foods I ate and subscribed to the “everything in moderation” approach.
After finishing treatment, I attended a lecture about diet and breast cancer given by Thomas Campbell, MD. This prompted me to read The China Study, The China Study Solution and How Not to Die, and complete a certificate program in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies through eCornell, a division of Cornell University.
They revealed that the foods you eat may help you avoid or potentially reverse certain diseases. The best “diet” is one rich in whole, unprocessed plant foods including fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. I continue to explore how the food you consume can affect your health.
Did you know that 70 to 80 percent of your immune system resides in your gut? Help keep your gut healthy by getting plenty of fiber. Foods high in fiber include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. It’s important to eat a wide variety as each contains different vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Fiber by the way is only found in plants.
What specific foods can help strengthen your immune system?
Kale and Spinach
Blueberries and Blackberries
Red Bell Peppers and Chili Peppers
Almonds, Walnuts and Sunflower Seeds
Turmeric and Ginger
Additional Dietary Considerations
- Broccoli sprouts contain sulforaphanes which activate the immune system. These sprouts contain many times more sulforaphanes than regular broccoli. Purchase organic, non GMO sprouts or consider growing your own.
- Drink lots of fresh, pure water. Every day you should consume in ounces an amount equal to half your body weight in pounds. (Ex. If you weigh 125lbs drink 62.5oz of water). Use a water filter if you are on a municipal water system or have your water tested if it comes from a well.
- Cut down on or eliminate salt, refined sugar, refined flour, dairy products, food additives, preservatives, and colorings, and alcohol.
Start incorporating more whole, unprocessed plant foods into your diet. They can help you feel better, have more energy and potentially avoid or reverse disease. Changing what you eat can be hard at first. Take small steps. It will become easier with time and repetition.
Like other systems in the body, as you get older your immune function declines. That means you need to be even more diligent about supporting and strengthening your immune system.
Your body wants to be healthy and has the capacity to heal itself if given the opportunity. The foods you eat play an integral part in the strength of your immune system. Be sure to check out next week’s blog to learn how exercise plays a role in immune system support.
Oh, by the way I have a guide on “natural” ways to support your immune system. Click here to get the guide.